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Do I need a POA to be added to my father in law's checking account?

Status: Open    Dec 04, 2015 - 07:28 AM

Finance, Elder Law

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Expert Answers

Dec 11, 2015 - 09:32 AM

This is a great question that many people should carefully consider before adding their name to someone else's account, or letting someone be put on your account.
1. Do you/your husband have siblings? If so, when your name is put on the account you become an owner. The money is yours as well as his. You can take money out with no strings attached, and when he dies, you will be the sole owner of the balance. This typically excludes any beneficiaries of the estate. So consider the size of the account, fairness, etc. This may also depend on how the account is titled (survivorship rights).
2. Do you have kids in college who might be eligible for financial aid? Owning this asset could affect FAFSA asset levels, and potentially disqualify your child for financial aid.

Banks sometimes have access or agent rights to accounts, which can be a better way to go.
POA's can be written to be very specific, or very general, but do not affect asset ownership. I would recommend that you consult with an attorney and possibly an accountant before making a change.


Dec 06, 2015 - 10:04 AM

Not knowing your circumstances this is a difficult question to answer. Does he live with you? Is he competent taking care of his own finances? Have you discussed this with him? If he is still mentally capable, the time is NOW to discuss this with him. Can he understand that a POA is intended to take care of him and his legal and/or financial issues if he is incapacitated. A POA is a legal document that must be notorized and witnessed to be effective. Does he have a lawyer? Do you?
Back to your original question: YOU keep a copy of the notorized POA and present if when requested or required. A hospital or doctor may ask him (or you) if he has a POA. But you don't have to 'add' it to account per se.

Of even more interest is the issue of a Healthcare Directive. Does he have one legally notorized and witnessed? Discuss this with him. The Healthcare Directive is a legal document that enables him to submit his own wishes re his healthcare or end of life issues AND he can name the person(s) he knows has his best interests in mind and who have permission makeing medical decisions for him if he is incapable.

If your father in law is already past (emotionally, mentally or physically) facing these issues, you will have to pursue legal avenues for a court order to obtain the requisite documents.

Dec 06, 2015 - 01:03 PM

After rethinking the question and my previous answer, my answer has changed somewhat. Some of my questions still apply, but basically, can you and your father in law go to the bank and in his presence and a bank officer agree to the joint signature plan? The bank may have specific forms for this action according to state regulations.I still don't think you need the legal POA to accomplish this action, but you do need his competency to exercise the task at the bank. Alternative might include applying to the courts for conservatorship or guardianship. Seek Elder Law attorney advice.
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